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Know Your HIV Status: Free HIV Testing and Treatment

Buncombe County Public Health works to make essential healthcare services accessible to all residents, with a focus on those who need it the most. STI testing and treatment are essential services that reduce the spread of preventable diseases and support the overall health of our community.

Did you know that Black Americans have higher rates of HIV than other racial and ethnic groups? About 40% of all new HIV cases in the U.S. occur among Black/African Americans, however, they account for 13% of the population. 

Black communities have made great progress in reducing HIV. Yet, issues such as racism, discrimination, and mistrust in the health care system may affect whether Black people seek or receive HIV prevention services. These issues may also reduce the likelihood of engaging in HIV treatment and care. 

Buncombe County is working to overcome structural barriers to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment, and stop HIV stigma.

In addition to free or low-cost STI testing, treatment, and referrals, Buncombe County Public Health runs the PrEP Program, providing HIV testing and screening, clinic visits, and PrEP medication.

Buncombe County PrEP Program

PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a medication that can reduce your chance of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV. Monica Dillingham, pharmacist with Buncombe County Health and Human Services, says you should consider PrEP if you:

  • Have had vaginal or anal sex in the past 6 months and don’t consistently use condoms, or 
  • If you have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past 6 months, or 
  • If you have an HIV-positive partner (especially if the partner has an unknown or detectable viral load). 
  • You may also consider PrEP if you use IV drugs and have an HIV-positive injecting partner or share needles, syringes, or equipment.

The Buncombe County PrEP program will provide laboratory testing and clinic visits required to receive a prescription for PrEP. Clients enrolled in the PrEP program will attend follow-up clinic visits for repeat HIV testing and STI screening every three months. Services are currently provided free of charge, regardless of insurance status. 

Many people may qualify for the program, call the STI clinic at (828) 250-5109 and ask about the PrEP program. First visits generally involve HIV testing and STI screening and there is no obligation to enroll if you decide that PrEP is not for you. 

“There are other ways that you can reduce your risk of HIV such as using condoms the right way every time, knowing your HIV status and your partner's status, and getting tested for STIs routinely,” says Monica.

Rapid Testing 

If you would like a quick screening for HIV, the Buncombe County Public Health Mobile Team provides free walk-in HIV and Hep C screening on Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. at 40 Coxe Avenue in Asheville with no appointment needed. The team also travels throughout the community to make access easier. Find their online calendar here:

Buncombe County is working to overcome barriers by offering free HIV testing and linking HIV-positive clients to care when needed.  

“One of the most important things that you can do in the fight against HIV/AIDS is to get tested and know your status! Knowing your status empowers you to make important decisions about your health,” Monica says. “There have been many recent advances in HIV medications so that people living with HIV can live long, healthy lives and lower the risk of passing HIV on to their partners.” 

To make an appointment for tests, PrEP, or for more information:

  •  Call: (828) 250-5109
  •  Visit: 40 Coxe Avenue, Asheville
  •  Rapid Testing Walk-in: Wednesdays, 1-4 p.m.

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Updated Feb 21, 2024 11:08 AM
Published Feb 07, 2024 12:00 PM

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